Assemblies of God-(Pentecostal)

In preparing and checking our material on the As­semblies of God we came upon some questions which seemed to require corroboration from the headquarters of this church itself, so we wrote their office in Spring­field, Missouri.

J. ROSWELL FLOWER, General Secretary, General Council, Assemblies of God.

In preparing and checking our material on the As­semblies of God we came upon some questions which seemed to require corroboration from the headquarters of this church itself, so we wrote their office in Spring­field, Missouri. Soon there came a prompt and courte­ous reply from J. Roswell Flower, general secretary of the organization. His reply to our questions was so comprehensive and informative that we asked his per­mission to reproduce the material in THE MINISTRY. We present it here as a link in our series of studies on various denominations and beliefs.-M.H.T.

In order to understand the movement, it should be noted that no one person can be named as its founder. It began with the turn of the century in a spontaneous movement which affected not only the United States but Great Britain, Sweden, Norway, South Africa, and Chile, South America. The churches claiming to be Pentecostal are independent and sover­eign of each other, but large numbers of them have gathered themselves together in co-oper­ative movements, the largest body being the Assemblies of God, with headquarters at Springfield, Missouri; the Church of God with headquarters at Cleveland, Tennessee; the Pentecostal Holiness Church, with headquarters in Franklin Springs, Georgia ; and the Interna­tional Church of the Foursquare Gospel, with headquarters in Los Angeles.

The Assemblies of God, which is by far the largest body, has a congregational government. The Pentecostal Holiness Church and the Church of God of Cleveland, Tennessee, have more of an episcopal form of government.

The denominational name is "The Assem­bliesof God." Each church is designated an "Assembly of God." Therefore, it is proper to use the term The Assemblies of God in the sin­gular and also in the plural.

The Assemblies of God was organized in the year 1914, the membership at that time consisting of only a few churches. The first attempt to compile a record of membership was made in the year 1927. At that time the executive office had a record of 909 churches, with a total mem­bership of 50,386.

During the first fourteen years of the growth of the movement there was no standard of doctrine, and inasmuch as the movement was being made up of Christians wth all sorts of religious backgrounds, there was considerable confusion in the matter of theology.

In 1914, the same year that the Assemblies of God was organized, a schism developed in the movement involving belief in the Trinity. Some of the ministers withdrew from the newly organized Assemblies of God to form the Pen­tecostal Assemblies of the World. The schism involved the exaltation of the Lord Jesus Christ as both Father and Holy Ghost and, therefore, was in essence Unitarian. These people became known as the "One Name" people, and they taught baptism in the name of Jesus only (Acts 2:38), repudiating the baptismal form of Mat­thew 28:19.

The "One Name" people broke up into sev­eral groups which are not recognized by the trinitarians of the Pentecostal Movement. These groups became known as the Pentecostal As­semblies of Jesus Christ, the Pentecostal Church, Inc., and the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World. However the first two of these groups later combined under the name United Pentecostal Church, Inc.

The International Church of the Foursquare Gospel found its origin in the Assemblies of God. Mrs. Aimee Semple McPherson was an Assemblies of God minister in 1922, when she withdrew to organize her church. The Inter­national Pentecostal Assemblies and the Pente­costal Church of God of America are small or­ganizations of independent churches, which are in nature more like the Assemblies of God. They are trinitarians and orthodox in theology.

The Pentecostal Holiness Church and the Fire-baptized Holiness Church were at one time united. We do not know the details of the separation of the two groups. The Pentecostal Holiness Church was in existence prior to the year 1901, but accepted the Pentecostal teach­ings, and therefore was recognized as a part of the Pentecostal movement. The Church of God of Cleveland, Tennessee, was also in existence prior to the year 1901, but was very small with only a few congregations. The growth of the Church of God of Cleveland, Tennessee, has been great but not so great as the Assemblies of God. They have issued a history of their movement which can be obtained from their headquarters in Cleveland, Tennessee.

Calvary Pentecostal Church is a small group of independent churches in the Northwest, which have associated themselves in a fellow­ship for mutual profit and encouragement.

The International Pentecostal Assemblies is loosely organized. It is little more than a cre­dential-issuing bureau. According to the Year­book of American Churches,* the headquarters is found in Newcastle, Wyoming.

The Pentecostal Church of God in America is patterned more closely after the Assemblies of God, but the churches in that association are very loosely connected. Their headquarters is at Kansas City, Missouri. The Assemblies of God is quite strict in the matter of granting ministerial credentials to divorced and remar­ried ministers. The Pentecostal Church of God in America does not hold this high standard.

The Churches of God in Christ constitute the colored branch of the Pentecostal movement. Their headquarters is in Memphis, Tennessee. They have developed into a strong, aggressive organization working among the colored peo­ple.

The Assemblies of God in Great Britain had their origin as far back as the year 1908. George Jeffreys withdrew from that movement to found the Elim Foursquare Gospel. It was founded after the pattern of the International Four­square Gospel, of which Aimee Semple Mc­Pherson was the leader. It, however, had no organic relationship with the American Four­square Church.

The Assemblies of God in Great Britain and Ireland, in Sweden, Italy, France, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand are all separate organizations—as separate as the Methodist Church South and the Methodist Church North were before the union. They are bound together with the Assemblies, of God in America only by the bonds of doctrine and Christian fellow­ship.

The Philadelphia Church in Sweden is also a Pentecostal church. The story of the Phila­delphia Church was told recently in United Evangelical Action, official organ of the Na­tional Association of Evangelicals, published at East Fourth Street, Cincinnati 2, Ohio.

We are not proud of the schisms which de­veloped in the Pentecostal Movement, but we are proud of the growth of the Assemblies of God, which has far surpassed any of the other branches of the movement, and which has ad­hered faithfully to orthodoxy.

J. ROSWELL FLOWER, General Secretary, General Council, Assemblies of God.

Notes:

'Edited by Benson Y. Landis, under the auspices of the Federal Council of Churches of Christ in Amer­ica, published by Sowers Printing Company, Lebanon, Pennsylvania.

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J. ROSWELL FLOWER, General Secretary, General Council, Assemblies of God.

October 1947

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